American Women of Surrey - Join the club

Cobham and the surrounding area has long been a magnet to expatriates moving to England, so much so that the American Women of Surrey has been running for over 30 years and now has more than 400 members. Here, we speak to vice president of the group, Faith Boettger, to learn more

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2009 ***

When was the club set up? In 1975, The American Women of Surrey (AWS) was formed to provide a welcoming atmosphere for expatriates and their families living in Surrey. Now, over 30 years later, AWS has grown to become a very active organisation and continues to offer members social, cultural and philanthropic opportunities to enhance their expatriate experience in England. How often do you meet? We hold monthly general meetings. However, members could be busy every day of the week with the wide range of activities and classes offered, with everything from painting and the arts to Pilates and horse riding. What's the best thing about the club? As a club with members from all corners of the globe, we bring together women with different cultures, ideas and attitudes that have a common tie with North America and, of course, Surrey. Involvement in AWS provides a wonderful atmosphere for making new friends, finding new interests, and learning about our new home country. Do you find being surrounded by like-minded individuals inspiring? The energy of AWS members is incredible, whether organising socials, classes, trips to explore or philanthropic activities. The diversity of our members creates a dynamic atmosphere and a sense of commitment and accomplishment. How many members do you have and what is the age range of the group? We have over 400 members representing almost 40 countries. Our members span in age from their twenties to their nineties - young mums to empty nesters and everything in between. Do you have links with other similar clubs? We are very excited about an initiative we are coordinating with the Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas and the American Women's Club of London to create specially designed heart-shaped pillows to support breast cancer patients during treatment and recovery. AWS is selling greeting cards designed by member Margo Pullman, proceeds of which will be used to purchase supplies to make the pillows. Our goal is to donate 100 pillows to Royal Marsden Hospital's breast cancer ward. Do you have any famous members? We are fortunate to include among our members professional authors, actresses, members of the talented singing group String of Pearls and more! Our members distinguish themselves in so many ways - through their personal achievements, professional accomplishments and dedication to Surrey and local causes. What's the most interesting story from the group's history? Every year, AWS holds a number of events that benefit local charities, including the Annual Gift Fayre - now in its 18th year. This year, AWS is supporting the following Surrey-based charities: Momentum (Kingston); Alzheimers' Society - Mid Surrey Branch (Dorking); B@titude (Leatherhead); and Home Start (Woking). In the 34 years since AWS was founded, more than 150 local charities have received donations totalling in excess of �500,000 in addition to gifts in kind. ...and the funniest? In early 2007, the Queen planned to visit America. Prior to her visit, she hosted a party for 400 select Americans living in the UK. Our then president, Cathy Marland, attended the event at Buckingham Palace and the Queen admired Cathy's necklace, which was designed by one of our members - Mervat Provily. Cathy and Mervat added to the crown jewels by designing a special necklace and bracelet for the Queen. We are still scouring the papers to view her in AWS jewellery! When is your next event that is open to the public/potential new members? We welcome new members at any time. Membership is open to North American citizens, parents of children in American or international schools in England, those who called North American their home, and others. Prospective members can attend two club functions before joining. If you could describe your club in five words, what would they be? Welcoming. Diverse. Fun. Involved. Dedicated.

Find out more about the American Women of Surrey

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